The department of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology was saddened to hear of the death of our former colleague, the assyriologist Alasdair Livingstone, last week.
Alasdair had taken up his post here, at the University of Birmingham, in 1993, and remained here until his retirement in 2017. His devotion to Ancient Near Eastern studies was complete, as was his meticulous understanding of its detail, scholarship and history as a discipline.
Alasdair was born in Pietermaritzburg (South Africa) on 29 January 1954, where his father was senior lecturer in mathematics. His father’s appointment to a chair of Pure Mathematics at Birmingham brought the family here in 1968. In 1975 Alasdair took a First in Assyriology and Arabic Studies at Queens’ College Cambridge, before returning to Birmingham to study with the formidable assyriologist Wilfred Lambert, who became his lifelong guru. Alasdair gained his PhD in 1980 with a thesis on ‘Mystical and Mythological Explanatory Works of Assyrian and Babylonian Scholars’. After a postdoctoral position in Munich, and work as an archaeological advisor in Saudi Arabia, in 1985 he was appointed to the staff at Heidelberg before finally returning to Birmingham in 1993, following the retirement of Wilfred Lambert. Alasdair remained here, as Reader since 1997, until his retirement in 2017, inspiring generations of students.